Car makers launch toned down versions of their luxury sedans to boost sales

Friday 13 July 2012, 12:05 PM by

To counter the sluggish market conditions, car manufacturers in India are introducing downgraded versions of some of their premium models. This move is an attempt to pace up the sales volume and offer new models in competitive pricings. Some of said launches include Skoda Superb 'Ambition', Honda City 'Corporate' and Tata Motors Aria '4x2'.

Even though the models are downgrade versions of their siblings, the manufacturers have not compromised on the grounds of safety. Features like Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and airbags have been retained by the companies in such models. However, advancements like parking sensors, xenon lights and sunroofs are getting chucked in the bid to reduce prices.

National Leader, Automotive Sector, Ernst & Young, Rakesh Batra, said, “Stripped-down launches are purely driven by cost. Either the product is not selling enough volumes or it is not too profitable.”

Czechoslovakia based Skoda is offering the 1.8 litre variant of its Superb Ambition at Rs. 18 lacs, which is around Rs. 1.6 lacs less than its existing Superb Elegance. The 2 litre variant of Ambition too costs Rs. 1.5 lacs cheaper than the same variant of the Elegance which is priced at Rs. 22.5 lacs. To adjust this price difference, Skoda has compromised on features like sunroof, touch screen audio, front parking sensors, cruise control and bluetooth connectivity. With the launch of stripped down versions of the existing models, car makers feel that they are expanding their product portfolio in the Indian auto market.

Following the league, the Indian subdivision of Japanese auto giant, Honda Motor also introduced the Corporate edition of its City sedan with a starting price of Rs. 7.2 lacs. However, its E-grade costs a slight more than the former with a tag of Rs. 7.8 lacs. This rebate of Rs. 60,000 comes at the cost of audio system and speakers, silver/chrome garnishes, mudguards, aluminium finish and the centre console panel. The corporate edition comes with black handles and Outside Rear View Mirrors (ORVMs) unlike the body coloured ones on the E-grade Honda City.

Senior Vice-President, Marketing, Honda Siel, J. Sen, said, “We felt there was an opportunity to reach a wider audience at a lower price and thereby garner incremental numbers. The City still is an aspirational model and at this price point it gives an opportunity for more customers to own the City who otherwise would never be able to own one.” Let's hope that the car manufacturers succeed in their strategy to generate more sales through the slimmed down models in an otherwise turbulent market.

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